So It Is
Preservation Hall Jazz Band
Formed in 1961 to preserve the traditional part of New Orleans Jazz culture that was disappearing, The Preservation Hall Jazz Band is a beloved part of the city and a fixture of the French Quarter. They’ve delighted tourists with classic songs for years. And now with their second release of original numbers, they’ve stepped up their game with one hell of an album.
Jazz was the soundtrack of bootleg liquor and speakeasies. It spoke to gangsters, gambling, and the sort of illicit behavior that made for an entertaining Sunday morning sermon. It was dangerous, culturally seditious, and made good people indulge bad thoughts. So what’s not to like about it?
The passing decades made it seem old-timey and quaint. Your grandpa’s music. So It Is is brings all the original intent with it and builds a fire impossible to ignore. Subversive and positively carnal, this is a disc that oozes with a colorful charm. Afro-Cuban rhythms and exotic spices invigorate all the songs.
Title track “So It Is” shuffles to life, slowly waking up, a stride piano owning the number. “La Malanga” is a fleshy, animated song the players seem to relish as they positively attack it. Immediately followed by “Convergence,” which slinks to life, like a showstopping Cab Calloway number. Popping, strutting, and eager to please. Closing number “Mad” jumps to life with the fierce ardor of the recently converted. Equal parts spiritual and second line brass band, it cooks with intensity.
Easily one of the best albums of 2017, it sets a really high bar for any would be contenders. This is what jazz is supposed to be. Sly, knowing, and in on the take. Like a just discovered dusty bottle of 80 year old whiskey, don’t let the smooth taste fool you. This will hit you all at once. And you will only want more.